February, 2023



The Family is settling into the house that’s going to be our home for the next three days. I’ve driven 500 miles, and I’m trying to catch a bit of rest on the couch before we head out to dinner with friends. Half awake, I hear a little scritching sound and little bits of creosote falling down the chimney, but I don’t think much of it. Suddenly, a flash of fur hangs down from inside the fireplace, and I leap to my feet and jam the fire screen against the opening, all the while yelling, “Get outta here!” I cannot believe what a close call that was.

The next two days were even worse. Both of our moms and the three kids periodically had to stop what they were doing and run to the fireplace to chase the intruder back up the chimney. It was a game of cat and mouse, and our kids thoroughly enjoyed it! But then Saturday evening came. The event that we were going to was the purpose of the trip, and we all headed out the door soon after dinner. We discussed the fireplace situation, and I think I said something to the effect of, “Well, those things go to bed at night, don’t they?” We came back to the home away from home, and as I walked in, I noticed a few Christmas decorations lying on their side by the fireplace, but again, I didn’t think anything of it. As I walked on into the kitchen, I saw a wooden star lying on the kitchen floor next to a broken plastic plate. By this time, the rest of the family had made their way in and apparently realized what I had not, because I heard someone say, “Marlin, that squirrel is still in the house—it’s got to be here somewhere!” We started looking under the couch and behind the furniture, and I checked the bedrooms. Not more than a few minutes later, someone hollered out, “It’s in the Christmas tree!” And it was game on!

We got the kids downstairs, and I realized that we had a real problem on our hands. How in the world are we going to get this squirrel out of the house? We tried a few things, including trying to scoot the Christmas tree closer to the door, which only made the squirrel leap onto the curtains. At one point, my mom was trying to keep it at bay by the front door using two sweatshirts as weapons! After about fifteen minutes and much hollering, we had a squirrel locked in the bathroom. I will say, you have not lived till every single curtain has been violated, and you have squirrel scat on the kitchen floor! With the biggest trashcan I could find and a Styrofoam cooler lid, I marched into the bathroom to do battle—at least that’s what it felt like! After a few minutes of high-pitched squealing (the squirrel’s, not mine), I emerged victorious with the angry squirrel contained and wasted no time getting outside. What a wonderfully hilarious Christmas vacation memory!

If we only had an RV!


A collage of photos from the February 2023 publisher message. Marlin carries the trapped squirrel outside while his mom stands at the window to watch


As always, may you find joy in the simple things.

Plain Values Publisher


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